Is it true that horror movies generally portray women as victims?
Sadly, long before TV and movies women have been victimized… for centuries. The most notable example is in the late 17th century Salem Witch Trials. Conservative estimates of the murdered range around 50,000 people, with women making up about 80% of those victims.
The debate is heated about women and the victim role in movies. One of the most intriguing positions is held by those who blame the Judeo-Christian ethos. They point to the fact that, throughout history, Christianity has struggled with its cultural and theological bias of generally viewing women as conduits for evil: “Eve ate the apple!”
For more on the influence of the Christian ethos in horror movies…
CHECK OUT: CHRISTIANS INSPIRE HORROR?
Another argument is that the portrayal of women in weaker, vulnerable roles is nothing more than good marketing, appealing to a mostly male audience generally more interested in sex and violence.
Beyond this, some argue that traditional gender roles are the main influence. Man is a hunter, and the killer. Woman is the gatherer and nurturer. And oftentimes, the public responds to those archetypes better than when these roles are reversed. As always, there are exceptions. Buffy the Vampire Slayer did a great job of breaking the standard stereotype.
To be honest with you, most of the critical analysis of horror movies and their preferred victims is done by people who don’t like horror movies. Truth be told, the scariest villains and killers are often women – i.e. witches, female ghosts, vampiresses, sweet-faced psychos, vengeful suductresses, demon dolls, etc. In short, many argue that the horror genre is one of the few genres that provides equal opportunity for both the victim and/or the aggressor.
“Contrary to popular belief, women aren’t mere victims in horror movies – in many cases they’re empowered.” – Anne Billson.
Regardless as to what your opinion may be, the movie portrayal of the victim and his/her aggressor casts light on a real issue in our society, past and present – those who are generally perceived as weaker are often preyed upon and abused by those who feel entitled.
My friend, Actor Bill Oberst Jr. is primarily cast in the role of a male psychotic-aggressor. If you knew him as I do, you would know he’s nothing even remotely like the roles he portrays on TV and in the movies. If he were, he’d be in prison! So, how does he get into character? How and why does he play such violent roles? And are there characters he would never agree to play?
“I delight in playing human beings… who think they have everything they need within themselves… which always leads to tragedy, death, and destruction.”
– Bill Oberst Jr.